The West Virginia. Center for Civic Life is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that helps engage our citizens in community discussions of important public issues that affect our state and nation.
Deliberative democracy is a system of political decision-making that relies on public discussion to make policy. Deliberative democracy requires people to come together and talk--to deliberate about common problems in the context of a deliberative forum-- instead of merely voting for candidates to represent them. Action then follows talk.
Deliberation opens people up to new ways of thinking about community issues. It creates new opportunities for cooperation and collaboration. Deliberation helps people to see new possibilities.
The goal behind deliberation is not merely to draw a crowd and fill a room with opinionated people. The purpose is much bigger and more powerful. When citizens deliberate about an issue and when a community has a habit of asking citizens to make choices, the directions that are chosen are often better and they have a legitimacy that simply doesn't exist otherwise. Citizens take ownership of problems. They talk about what they can do, not what others ought to do. They act out of a sense of mission and passion.
Communities in a democracy are healthier when citizens are doing the work of citizens. We often think of politics as the responsibility of government officials and our elected representatives. But at its best, politics should embrace every citizen as the primary driving force behind the decision-making process.
Deliberative forums are meetings where citizens with a variety of perspectives come together to determine a course of action to help resolve a problem facing them.
At a deliberative forum, with the help of a neutral moderator, citizens talk together, explore options, weigh each other’s views, and consider costs and trade-offs of various solutions. Deliberative forums follow a five-step process:
Yes. We conduct workshops such as the annual Civic Life Institute to teach people how to convene, moderate, and record deliberative public forums that build capacity to work in communities on common problems. In these workshops: